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Tackling Behavior Problems In High Schools

It's no surprise to educators that bright-and-shiny educational initiatives often hit the wall when it comes to high school implementation.

High schools are big. There may be dozens or hundreds of teachers; hundreds or thousands of students. High school students face pressures that younger students do not, and their problems manifest themselves in different ways.

All those issues are in play when it comes to starting a positive behavioral intervention and support program in high school, said Brigid Flannery, a professor at the University of Oregon and a presenter at the Office of Special Education Programs Project Directors' Conference in D.C. this week.

PBIS is a tiered intervention framework for managing student behavior. Evidence-based practices are used for all students, and those who have more challenging behaviors get intensive behavioral supports.

The framework has shown success in many schools, but Flannery said high school PBIS programs are often slow to get off the ground and may fizzle soon after starting. Those who are interested in learning more about PBIS at the high school level should take a look at this monograph published by the Technical Assistance Center for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.

It's not easy: administrators and support teams all have to collaborate closely, and support teams need to have access to good information on each student to ensure that the interventions are really working. One key is to continue reassessing the work, Flannery said. "We want this program to be successful by design and not by chance," she said.

Flannery's Powerpoint presentation is also available as a PDF here.

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